Dr. Jennifer Baumbusch is a professor at the UBC School of Nursing, and a Canadian Institute of Health Research Sex & Gender Science Chair. Her research and scholarship focus on enhancing person and family-centered care for older adults and people with lifelong disabilities, across health, social and educational systems. Her expertise lies in critical inquiry, qualitative methods, and innovative, collaborative approaches to knowledge translation.
With a research career that spans almost 20 years, Dr. Baumbusch works broadly on improving the experiences of people receiving care and their families. Her current research also centers on inclusive education for students with disabilities and complex learning needs during COVID-19. Findings from her work will inform policies and practices to strengthen educational inclusion for all children and youth, create opportunities for students to build friendships and learn, and develop pathways toward adulthood. “Education is a central part of growing up and preparing for adulthood. It is a social determinant of health,” shares Dr. Baumbusch.
Dr. Baumbusch is committed to maximizing the impact of her research through collaboration with partners. One such partner is BC Ed Access, a group working on behalf of parents and families to improve the inclusion of students with complex learning needs and disabilities in education. She also works with Inclusion BC and the BC Family Support Institute, who assist her to recognize what is essential and most beneficial for the communities she works with.
She credits several supervisors who used community-engaged and community-based principles with inspiring her to do collaborative research and engage with knowledge translation and mobilization strategies. Dr. Baumbusch sees targeted communication to research partners and relevant decision makers as a key component in knowledge translation, whether to influence policy on increased accessibility or network to expand partnerships with community stakeholders. She adds that even though she might not be sitting at policy or decision-making tables, her partners are, and they can take her research forward and equip them with information and current evidence from her work.
"Every researcher has the opportunity to find the platform that is most instrumental and accessible for them and the communities they want to reach. I think that regardless of your area of inquiry, it is looking at who's going to ultimately use this work and who's going to benefit from it and then having conversations with them," she says.
As with many engaged scholars, COVID-19 altered Dr. Baumbusch's research trajectory. The needs of community partners changed, and with it, the focus of her research needed to pivot. Using adapted knowledge translation strategies, such as virtual versus in-person meetings, has proven effective for community partners to advocate for their evolved needs. It has required flexibility but has also allowed communication with partners from more rural and remote areas eliminating several barriers. These changing times have allowed for new methods to be woven into the fabric of her research to make research more adaptable and evolve with the needs of the people she works with.
Find the platform(s) that works for your community and research: e.g. social media as a method to make research more accessible.
Networking and communication can take your research forward - find partners in several fields so that if you cannot be there, your partners can.
Flexibility can go a long way. Dr. Baumbusch says that, “being able to be flexible and adapt to what is happening, I think, is what's really driving my research into the future.”